Who does not aspire to be the chief minister? Almost everyone has a secret wish to the top job in the state. Whatever be their experience and ability or investment and patronage every senior person aspires to be CM. There is nothing wrong with that, after all ambition is a hand maiden of politics and power. But the way to the throne is riddled with obstacles and treachery, political concessions and unseemly deals to be made under the table. It is a job which requires heavy investment.
Trouble starts when one begins to go back on the concessions promised and deals made. This seems to be happening now. It was out of sheer luck and timing that N Biren Singh got the top job in the first term, as he happened to be the one with experience in governance and politics among a few others and first-time MLAs. However, his second stint is not a walk-over. It took 10 days for BJP to decide the name of the next chief minister even as it got absolute majority with 32 seats in the 60 member Manipur legislative assembly.
The once powerful Congress party was reduced to a single digit figure of five while BJP ally in the preceding government NPP emerged as the second largest party with seven seats even though its leader Y Joykumar lost his seat. BJP’s other ally NPF got five seats increasing its tally by one from last assembly elections while JDU and a new entrant Kuki Peoples Alliance (KPA) got six and two respectively besides three independents. NPF once again became a partner in government formation, JDU and KPA besides two independents have pledged their support to the BJP government.
The main contenders in the last term are still alive and kicking in the second term. In a compromise formula, three contenders to the throne Th Bishwajit, Y Khemchand and Govindas Konthoujam were also sworn in as Ministers along with the Chief Minister N Biren Singh. Senior Minister Th Bishwajit lost out to N Biren Singh in the leadership race in 2017 and he felt it was his turn this time.
Former Speaker Y Khemchand still aspires, but he has not come out in the open. This time, another CM candidate was hoisted by the local RSS in the person of Govindas Konthoujam who left the post of state Congress President to join BJP. Some others have also thrown in their hat in the ring. Prominent among them is former IPS officer Th Radheshyam who was dropped from the council of ministers midway in the term to give way to new ones. These aspirants can broadly be divided into two sets.
For some, a political dictum acts as the guiding principle. Instead of joining those involved in rocking the chair, they remain faithful to the King and bid their time. The second set of aspirants is vocal and openly lobbies with the high command along with a few MLAs supporting them.
Out of 32 BJP MLAs elected in the 2022 state assembly elections, only 10 have been allotted minister posts including the chief minister while its ally NPF had been given two posts of ministers. So, it is but natural for disgruntled elements to flock together. On the other hand, the one in the chair would not give up easily and bow out. It is but human nature. Therein lies one of the main factors of the present turmoil. And it is for the leadership to mend fences and keep the flock together in good humour. There may or may not be unhappy elements with the way things are being handled or in crisis management within and without.
And hence, it is also natural for voices critical of the present dispensation to come up. Yet, the critical voices have remained mute and patient by and large in the interests of the state. But, it would be wrong to take the silence for granted. No one knows when it will blow up. Here, political maturity and statesmanship would be the ultimate deciding factor of things to come.